Visa has warned all of its banks and payment processor partners in Germany that it will discontinue its services regarding payments to and from illegal online gambling websites, claims a recent story in the German media outlet NDR.
Online Gambling Still Illegal
Online gambling in most of its forms in Germany is illegal according to the third amendment of the State Treaty on Gambling, with the exception of sports betting and the state-run lotteries, as well as within the geographic constraints of the Schleswig-Holstein province where there is a special law that allows it.
Despite the illegal status of online casinos, a lot of offshore operators are actively present on the German gambling market, channeling players towards their product offerings. As their operations are based outside of the country, the gaming regulatory body feels powerless to stop them, and instead chose another way to deal with the situation by cutting off their money supply at the source.
Efforts in this direction dated back to last summer, when the gaming regulator, the Ministry of the Interior and Sport in Lower Saxony, issued a blocking order against one of the biggest payment providers, Paypal, forcing the operator to abandon the German market. Recently, the regulator issued a second blocking order to an unnamed payment processor, warning that more restriction orders were in the works.
Visa Payment Options Officially Removed
Most of the offshore casino operators already reacted to the warning by Visa, removing the deposit and withdrawal option from their payment methods, causing German players in gambling forums to wonder why their Visa card is not doing the job anymore. Two of the companies with strong presence on the German online gambling market, Tipico and Bwin, despite removing the Visa option from their payments, continue to process these, as the investigative media found out.
Tipico has removed the Visa logo from its website, while GVC Holdings’ Bwin states that the Visa payment is only accepted for sports betting. As any investigative media, though, NDR continued further and tested both operators whether they would accept payments with Visa cards.
Bwin accepted the deposit and allowed the money to be used for other types of gambling besides the sports book, even allowed a withdrawal back to the card. Tipico accepted the deposit and also allowed for the money to be used for the illegal online gaming.
No Official Comments on the Story
Both gaming companies refused to answer questions asked from the media outlet, but the official spokesperson from Tipico implied that the online casino restriction as per the third amendment of the State Treaty on Gambling is in contradiction with the law of the European Union.
NDR contacted Visa for an official comment on the story but the multinational payments processor refused to respond to the questions asked.